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Senior editor James Laube, Wine Spectator's expert on the wines of California, joined the magazine in 1983.
James Laube

A Sonoma Pinot Among a Set of Stellar Christmas Wines

Rochioli Pinot Noir Russian River Valley 2007

James Laube
Posted: December 30, 2010

Christmas dinner with serious wine lovers usually brings out the best in food and wine. Fresh Dungeness crab, a popular holiday treat in Northern California, provided the focal point for the main course this year. I dined with friends who popped the corks on several great Champagnes (starting before I got there), including an elegant Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé NV and a yeasty, doughy Henriot Brut NV (the bottle disappeared so fast I didn’t catch more details). Next came a 2005 Marcassin Chardonnay Sonoma Coast Three Sisters Vineyard, rich and mature, very Burgundian with its minerally earthiness.

That was followed by a lovely California Pinot, a magnum of 2007 Rochioli Russian River Valley. The Rochioli has blossomed into a seamless mix of supple plum and black cherry fruit that was rich yet elegant, which I thought was outstanding (92 points, non-blind) and far showier than when I blind-tasted it and recommended short-term cellaring.

Dessert came in the form of a half-bottle of 2001 Château d’Yquem, a fitting end to the meal. This Sauternes earned a 100-point rating from Wine Spectator, and it showed why, with its pure richness, impeccable balance and deep, layered honeyed flavors with traces of fig, melon, tobacco and apricot.

WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for Rochioli Pinot Noir Russian River Valley 2007 (87, $60).

• Plus, get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated California Pinot Noirs.

Juan Pedro San Martin
Coral Gables, Florida —  January 1, 2011 2:05pm ET
The 2006 is drinking great..Thanks for the update on the 2007 as we had stayed away due to your notes.

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